In the study, researchers induced heart attacks in pregnant mice and then checked a week or two later to see if the fetal cells had transferred to the mother. To make the fetal cells easy to spot, they were genetically tagged with green fluorescent protein (GFP).The authors are helpful this research could eventual lead to use of placental cells in the treatment of heart ailments.
"Much to our surprise, they homed selectively and specifically to just the injured zone of the maternal hearts, not the non-injured zones, and not to non-injured organs within the same mouse," said Hina Chaudhry, M.D., senior author of the study and a cardiologist at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.
Two weeks after the animal's induced heart attack, fetal cells comprised 2 percent of the maternal heart.
Furthermore, the fetus-derived cells differentiated into heart muscle cells and cells that form blood vessels or the inner lining of blood vessels and other organs.